The Ethics Of Giving Children Adhd Medication

2180 words - 9 pages

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a psychiatric disorder that causes children to have problems with paying attention, trouble with following instructions, have impulsive behaviors and become easily distracted. Medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin, are used to treat the symptoms of this disorder by helping the patient to focus and pay attention while also curbing their impulsive behavior and hyperactivity. Side effects of these medications are, but not limited to, anxiety, addiction and in some cases psychosis. Proponents of giving ADHD medication to children argue that ADHD is a real disorder in children and the medication does improve the symptoms of the disorder by a large margin as well as being cost effective. Also, not only are the parents happy with the outcome of their children taking the prescribed medication but so are the children themselves. Proponents also argue that by not letting parents of the children, young adults and adults choose to take these prescriptions when diagnosed with ADHD that the medical and psychiatric communities would be in violation of the principle of autonomy. Justice as well would be violated since most of the burden of dealing with all the symptoms caused by this disorder would fall on those with ADHD and partly on their families. Opponents of giving ADHD medication to children point out that it is not only going to children with ADHD but also being prescribed to those not diagnosed with the disorder as well as the pills being given or sold to other children and young adults. They also claim that the full side- effects of ADHD medication are still not known and could have harmful long-lasting effects on the children taking the medications. In this case, the principle of beneficence must be applied by balancing the benefits the medication provides to those with ADHD along with the risks of possible side-effects and that people, particularly children, that are not diagnosed with this disorder will be taking the medication.
In the last few years, the diagnosis and number of prescriptions for children and teenagers with ADHD has rapidly increased. According to a recent statistic from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 15% of high school age teenagers were diagnosed with ADHD and three and a half million children were on prescribed medication for the disorder as compared to six hundred thousand children in 1990 (“The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder.”). With ADHD on the rise more research into what causes ADHD and what parts of the brain this disorder affects have been undertaken. An association between people with ADHD and delays in maturation of the regions of the brain having to do with planning, thinking, and paying attention as well as the delayed development of the outermost layer of the brain known as the cortex has been shown through the use of brain imaging (“What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, ADD)?”). Brain imaging might have given the answer...

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